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Full text of "A history of Persia"

LAST YEARS OF NADIR SHAH        365
realized that they would provoke Russian hostility, and
Jonas Hanway was despatched to assume charge. Passing
through Astrakhan, he found that the Russians were
opposed to British activity, which threatened their own
trade, the ships built at Kazan being greatly superior to
anything which then sailed on the Caspian.
Hanway, after discussing the situation with Elton,
decided to take his cargo to Astrabad and Meshed, and
with this object sailed to Astrabad Bay. He reached
Astrabad city without incident, but before he could leave
it Mohamed Husayn Khan, the Kajar chief, seized the
place. The Turkoman who had joined in the Kajar
expedition, not content with receiving the Englishman's
goods, asked- for the merchants as slaves to tend their
sheep ! The Kajar Khan, however, saved Hanway from
this fate and he was permitted to leave Astrabad, He
determined to seek justice from Nadir Shah, and having
with the utmost difficulty traversed Mazanderan he re-
turned to Langar Rud, where Elton befriended him, and
to Resht, where he refitted for the onward journey. He
reached the royal camp at Hamadati safely, and was readily
granted an order for the restitution of his goods, or, in
default, for payment of their value. This necessitated a
second journey to Astrabad, where Hanway was a witness
of the awful punishments meted out to the rebels and saw
two pyramids of piled-up heads.
The Closing of British Trade across the Caspian^ 1746.
The Russian Government was alarmed, and not without
reason, at Elton's action, and as a first step stopped the
consignment of goods to him across Russia. In vain the
Russian Company made handsome offers to the wayward
Englishman if he would quit Persia. By way of response
he procured an order from Nadir in 1745 forbidding his
departure.
In the following year the Russian Government issued
a decree absolutely prohibiting the British trade across the
Caspian and assigning Elton's behaviour as the reason.
This was the death-blow to the venture. In the following
year, after the murder of Nadir Shah, the factory at Resht
was plundered of goods to the value of ^80,000, for which